Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Right and Wrong Way to Fix Ohio

This post can also be seen on Race42012.com

This afternoon, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland delivered his State of the State speech from the Ohio Senate chamber in Columbus.

With four straight polls showing an average lead of 8 points for his Republican opponent, former Congressman and budget Chairman John Kasich, Strickland needed to take this opportunity to hit Ohio’s jobs crisis head-on.

Instead what did Ohio’s voters get? A speech full of excuses and calls for bigger government.

Governor Strickland likes to say the recession Ohio faces isn’t his fault. Well, Governor, no one said it was. The problem instead lies in how your policies enhanced job loss and how your ‘kick the can down the road’ approach to reforming state government dug Ohio deeper into long-term fiscal ruin.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s John Kasich responding this afternoon to the Governor’s speech.

When the guy known as the architect of the first balanced federal budget since man walked on the moon speaks on how to fix what ails government, you listen.

Kasich’s right, "we need a real balanced budget. A more effective, more efficient government that doesn't cater to special interests. Lower taxes to create jobs, especially for small businesses. Better trained workers. Fewer lawsuits and fixing workers compensation for our small businesses."

Additionally, one aspect of Strickland’s speech particularly caught my eye.

The Columbus Dispatch noted the Governor’s priority of making “green jobs” the central focus of economic recovery.

We are not just sitting back and letting other states pass us by," Strickland said, adding later that, "Our renewal lies before us, not behind us."

The governor said Ohio already has a good start, pointing to a survey by the Council of State Governments that he said shows Ohio ranks 1st among all 50 states in the creation of "green" jobs last year.

So, Governor Strickland believes the CSG report validates his focus on green jobs as a way out of the jobs crisis, using Ohio’s record in producing green jobs as evidence of success.

But a closer look at the CSG report reveals some interesting information.

The report in question, released this past December, highlights the number of “green” jobs produced by President Obama’s stimulus. In fact, Ohio does lead the nation – with only 2,567 jobs.

Of those, 2,296 jobs come from a single grant – the Weatherization Assistance Program. The cost of this grant to taxpayers is $267 million. To be generous, let’s say half of those dollars go to pay for materials. That leaves us with jobs that cost each and every one of us $58,144 each.

Taking into account the number of unemployed Ohioans has increased by 339,900 since the Governor’s inauguration – and under what Strickland defines as a program to be emulated at $58k a job – it would cost taxpayers over $19.7 billion to pay for the jobs lost under Ted Strickland’s watch.


Finally, one passage of the Governor’s speech was particularly frustrating. Speaking of wind and solar energy companies, he said:

We should give those companies every reason to choose Ohio. That's why I am asking the legislature to erase Ohio's tangible personal property tax on generation for wind and solar facilities that break ground this year, create Ohio jobs, and begin producing energy by 2012.

See? Strickland does get it. Almost. Lower taxes attract business. But why must Strickland limit these incentives to only wind and solar businesses? Strickland says he “believes in Ohio”. If that’s the case Governor, incentivize all business to invest in all of Ohio.

With a Business Tax Climate ranking Ohio 4th worst in the nation, businesses are running for greener pastures. The Buckeye State needs a Governor willing to remove the barriers that prevent Ohio from prospering. Ohio needs John Kasich.

UPDATE: The ORP is up with a great video factchecking the Governor's State of the State Address...

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